When Vermilion Advantage had its first Business After Hours event return last month, one thing was clear.
“I think everyone is ready to get out,” said Nicole Van Hyfte, the new community development coordinator at Vermilion Advantage.
About 60 people attended the event at Vermilion River Beer Company in downtown Danville.
“It was a big success,” Van Hyfte said.
She said it was fun to hop around and talk to people.
“I think we made a lot of connections. We had a good mix of younger and older crowds,” Van Hyfte said.
Machelle Dykes, chamber operations/membership director at Vermilion Advantage, said they hope that continues.
In addition to the return of Business After Hours, Vermilion Advantage also is revamping the Young Professionals Network and has other activities coming up.
Dykes said they switched Business After Hours years ago to Member Roundtable Luncheons.
Dykes said fewer people were attending Business After Hours at that time and they polled Vermilion Advantage members about changing to luncheons.
“We found people were so busy right after work, with kids’ sporting events and being on the run, no matter how fun of a location we had,” Dykes said.
Business After Hours is a chance to meet people and network and visit a place maybe people haven’t been to. A business could be new, newly remodeled or have a new product.
Business After Hours is from 5-7 p.m., usually on the fourth Thursday of the month.
- July 22 – 112 Wine and Coffee Shoppe in Hoopeston
- Aug. 4 – Danville Library Foundation at Danville Public Library
- Sept. 9 – The Flight Line at Vermilion Regional Airport
- Oct. 7 – Sleepy Creek Vineyards in Fairmount
- Nov. 4 – Fischer Theatre in Danville
- Dec. 2 – Venue 22 in Danville
There is a $5-$10 charge that covers the cost of beverages and appetizers.
Van Hyfte said they want to get out in the county more.
“A lot in the past, chamber events have focused in Danville. I think a lot of rural towns don’t get the recognition they deserve,” Van Hyfte said. “We also need to show love to the other communities.”
Van Hyfte, who lives in Hoopeston, said 112 Wine and Coffee Shoppe in Hoopeston is a beautiful place for a next Business After Hours host. Owners Bob and Emily Brown also own Bricks and Ivy sports shop and a construction business.
Van Hyfte also has been visiting Vermilion County mayors, encouraging participation in a mayor’s council and getting the county to work as one unit.
“We’re better together than against each other,” she said.
In addition, Vermilion Advantage is continuing member luncheons.
The next Business & Networking Luncheon (formerly Member Roundtable) is 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 21 at the David S. Palmer Arena’s conference room, the luncheon’s new home base. Speaker is Guido Esteves who will talk about Danville Area Community College’s eSports, scholarships and a new music production program.
Dykes said some of the luncheons had been at Vermilion Advantage’s site at Danville city hall. The arena location offers more space.
The luncheons are the fourth Wednesdays of the month.
The first one was a cookout at ServPro in June. About 25 people came out, Dykes said.
Previous average luncheon attendance was about 40-50 people.
Dykes said they hope to get to those numbers and higher again.
The luncheons have a speaker and there is a $10 fee.
Vermilion Advantage also is bringing back Young Professionals Network which is open to any young professionals in the Vermilion County region as long as their employer, business or themselves are Vermilion Advantage members.
The Young Professionals Network will meet at 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 13 at the Danville Country Club. Lunch will be available for purchase.
Van Hyfte said the first meeting will be brainstorming ideas and goals, and networking to see the interest in this group.
She said they’re not putting an age range to it. They want to see who’s interested and will attend.
RSVP to Nicole Van Hyfte (including if you will be ordering lunch) at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her at 217-442-6201 by Aug. 6.
The Leadership Tomorrow program also continues; Aug. 20 is Vermilion Advantage’s golf outing which is still open to sponsors and teams; and a community video as a marketing tool is in the works.
Van Hyfte said they’re in the beginning stages of working with the Danville Area Convention & Visitors’ Bureau and Portal Entertainment to create less than a five minute video to highlight the area.
“I’m excited about it,” Van Hyfte said. “It’s a great way to get the word out to other communities how amazing Vermilion County is.”
For more information about Vermilion Advantage events, visit its Facebook page and its new redesigned website at www.vermilionadvantage.com.